Most of us go on vacations with visions of ourselves lazing around on the beach or spending sun filled days hiking in the mountains. Have we ever though of what would happen if we had an accident or if we caught some type of virus or parasite that makes us unable to enjoy the rest of our vacation?
Under such unfortunate situations, it is too late to get insurance. The best time to determine whether we need insurance is when we are planning to go on a trip. Consider the following scenarios:
Is there a chance that your trip may be cancelled?
This usually happens when you book the tickets way ahead of time. Travel insurance is certainly necessary if you book a tour or cruise a year ahead of time. No one can predict what will happen tomorrow if not in a year! So its best to get travel insurance as soon as you book your tickets so that you can get some of the money you spent on tickets back if you have an emergency or accident that prevents you from traveling.
What exactly does your health insurance cover when you are traveling?
Most of us know what our insurance covers when we are in our state or city. How about traveling out of the state? What is covered in international travel? Its best to visit the websites, read all the information provided by your insurance company and then call them or email them with your questions.
Do we have children or senior citizens in our traveling group? Do we have medically handicapped people in our family?
Usually people who are in moderate health situations can take the risk of traveling with less insurance. It is not recommended that you take insurance if you are going to take part in adventurous activities such as skiing or mountain biking etc.
Does the city you will be visiting have an emergency system such as 911 with ambulance services? How to they treat tourists who have accidents?
This is a very important question whether you pay for travel insurance or not. What happens within a few minutes of an accident can make a huge difference depending on how hurt you are. Falling down a cliff or having an auto accident may not be uncommon and seconds count when you are critically injured. You could be paralyzed if the paramedics don’t handle you well or if there are no paramedics at all!
What is the weather like at the holiday sites?
If you are traveling on icy road conditions or heavy rain with chances of mud slides and low visibility, there are tremendous reasons to get yourself covered with medical insurance. Avalanches are common in skiing areas when heavy snow falls. Flash floods are common in heavy downpours. Some of the areas in Asia are known for tsunamis and tidal waves.
What are the types of medical facilities that exist for tourists who may feel sick?
Another consideration for travelers should be the availability of common medicines for fever, diarrhea, etc. Should you need those medications, verify that the insurance will refund the expenses.
How do we pay for any emergencies?
Most insurance companies pay after the fact, especially when it comes to incidents in foreign countries where they cannot confirm that the expense has occurred or that it is a valid reason for reimbursement. So you have to shell out the money at the hospital and later get reimbursed by the insurance company unless it’s a recurring charge and you have to stay in the country for longer periods of time because you are immobile.
Now that we have sifted through some of the reasons why we would need health and travel insurance, lets review what to look for when scouting for travel insurance:
- If you or any one in your family group gets seriously ill or injured during the vacation, does the insurance company reimburse you for the unused portion of the vacation for all of you?
- If the company you have booked with goes out of business, would you get the money back?
- What about personal liability in case of legal problems that happen while traveling? What if you are charged with negligence for causing death or property damage?
- What about loss of luggage or flight delays causing more expenses than anticipated? Most companies have a maximum on such claims
- If you lost your passport and visa and would it pronto, how early can they get it to you? Some insurance companies specialize in 24 hour services so that we can easily get our important papers back.
- Emergency medical evacuation is a big addition to the travel insurance. This is needed for travelers going to remote places such as Antarctica or the North Pole who may be stranded there due to weather conditions or other disadvantages. This is also required for people going to places where the medical care and services are less than what we are used to.
- Accidental death insurance can be taken for those individuals who may be visiting high risk areas, war torn countries or scientists traveling to countries grappling with unknown diseases and death.
Travel insurance may be taken annually for those who travel every year. These trips may be taken multiple times in a year, but there may be a cap on the number of days that each trip can last for.
Travel insurance is also given to families and usually is packaged with low premiums when compared to the total amount that they would have had to shell out if each person in the family took individual insurance policies.
The key is to go for an insurance that carries higher deductible because generally these insurance policies have lower premiums. Verify that your insurance covers high risk activities such as winter sports and high risk adventures.
It is very important to find out how the claims will be made and when the money will be reimbursed. Always remember to keep copies of your receipts and the foreign exchange rates at that time. If you have email and can send in the claims as soon as they happen, you may get your money back sooner. There may also be a time limit on how long you can wait to claim the amount owed to you.
With precautions such as proper planning and complete insurance, you can enjoy a peaceful holiday!